Team RPS recently adopted pet mountains. Or befriended mountains. Incarnated as mountains, possibly. We've been playing a lot of Mountain, in short. It's a "mountain simulator," a little ambient game released today by David OReilly. Mountain will sit happily in a window in the background then occasionally chime to offer you a mountainous thought or alert you to a glorious sunrise. It's only $1 so I shan't explain more right now. You should buy it and see for yourself.
Should you demand more inspiration--or wish to play along with us--here, listen in on snippets from the RPS staffroom chatter as we discovered the joys, wonders, and mysteries of mountains. We hadn't expected biplanes and giant chairs. Or tragedies, Graham.
Alice: WELCOME TO MOUNTAIN
YOU ARE MOUNTAIN
YOU ARE GOD
I already like this a lot. I started to reply to some e-mails then alt-tabbed for a second to see why it made a noise and it was a beautiful night and I was so happy.
Graham: A giant traffic cone just plummeted into my mountain.
Alice: Bloody hell, what tune do you need to play for that to happen? Ruckzuck?
Graham: I'm listening to Aphex Twin. Or I think I am. I might just be tripping.
Graham: All I do is spin around (sez Mountain).
Adam: I haven't 'started' my mountain yet. SOON.
Alec: THERE'S A GIANT UMBRELLA ON MY MOUNTAIN
Alice: I enjoy playing a little tune then something changes and I wonder whether I cause that or it was just time to rain anyway.
Adam: How does the music thing work? I've just started mine.
Alec: Yeah, I have no idea if I'm doing anything or it's just that I feel I am. e.g. Is pressing the thought button altering something somewhere?
Alec: You can noodle out a tune with the bottom two letter rows of your keyboard, and speeds up time. Unclear if it does owt else.
Alice: WHAT I turn away for half an hour and my mountain has a barrel and a CD. AND a bottle of spirits. Mountain, what have you been up to?
Adam: Mine is snowy and majestic. No objects at this time.
Adam: Some of the trees are glowing!
Adam: Mountain update: a bunch of bananas and a sword.
Alice: My mountain's a mischievous drunk, yours is a pirate. Though, potato, potato.
Adam: All mountains are the same at heart.
Alec: Mine's a got big red bi-plane.
Alice: Uh huh. Sure. Mine's got, like, a hot naked babe.
I enjoy this Proteus-y "Huh? Really?" uncertainty speaking about it with other people.
Adam: I'm wary of saying this after the 'maximum posterior' comments about Natural Selection... but I'm quiet obsessed with the Mountain's underside. I'll be very pleased if something appears there.
Alice: Yeah, I do check out my mountain's bottom to check if anything's crashed there.
Alec: There's also what's either a boomerang or a little sailboat, but it's embedded so deep I can't tell.
Adam: One of the pictures that spawned my pirate mountain:
It's a gentleman with a silly putty face. He is in agony.
Here are the bananas.
Alec: I drew a cat and a big letter Z for mother, because I didn't really notice that it said 'mother' and was just seeing what moving the mouse did.
Adam: His mother was his earliest memory.
Adam: Oh, they're different questions! Or not questions... words. I didn't get sickness.
Alec: Yeah, I got 'privacy' and just scribbled the whole screen in black.
Alice: "I'm basically this mysterious night" ~me, Friday, 2am, after too much bourbon.
Also a mountain.
Adam: ha. Perfect timing. Mine just did an impression of me, same time, same situation. "I'm experiencing this apocalyptic night."
Graham: I come back from lunch to find a horse buried head first in my mountain. Plus a park bench, an egg... A rectangle and a second, smaller traffic cone.
Adam: There's a top hat in mine. Fancy pirate.
Graham: I can't be the only one seeing this eerie night.
Adam: It's lonely at the top. It's lonely at the bottom.
Alec: Ambient Katamari.
Our local branch of the Game Police are going to have an extremely busy beat when we post about this.
Adam: A GIANT PADLOCK
Alec: Haven't got any new stuff on my mountain as baby-strike turned off the PC over lunch, but I am in love with the way snow settles atop the wings of the bi-plane on mine.
Alec: Night On Wacky Mountain, yours.
Adam: My mountain is a magician whose partner died during an escapology accident.
I do wish the hat had landed right on top of the mountain. But that it didn't but potentially could have done is more pleasing.
Alec: Arf. I've still only got 2 things :(
This is like when everyone started playing WoW but I was stuck writing about printers on PC Format so they all levelled up way ahead of me.
Alec: TOP HAT
Much jauntier angle than Adam's.
And now a pencil too.
Adam: Hmmm that is a superior angle.
Sailboat, but it's sort of embedded in a way that makes it look naff.
It looks like a napkin. Maybe it is a napkin.
Alice: Lots of my stuff is kind of boring. A crate, a plate, a barrel. Though that lamp is lovely, and the crate confirms this is a video game.
Alec: Somehow yours looks like the campaign map from Dungeon Keeper.
Alice: It's like Brutal Legend, the game unexpectedly turns into something entirely different after a few hours. You'll have your imps dig that plane out and load it with bombs.
Adam: The plane is my favourite thing.
Alec: Yeah, I half want to just quit right now cos it can only be disappointment after that.
Bright and washed out mountain. Trying to work out what that blue ball is below the bananas.
But really, what is it?
Alec: The plane tells a story, whereas some of the comedy oversized monopoly pieces are.... wacky.
Isn't the same thing at the top of Alice's mountain?
Adam: Oh yeah!
Alice: Ah, my orb!
Graham: This thing is lovely. Let's start giving scores and give it a million.
I have an orb at the top of my mountain now too.
Adam: A dark recess of my brain keeps barking out that this is actually a 22 Cans project released without the name attached to see if people will treat it with more respect. The ultimate experiment. Bad brain.
Graham: If this was a 22Cans project it'd be about tapping on things. There's nothing to tap here.
Adam: Not yet.
Alice: Lessons for Godus: make tapping play little xylophone noises.
Adam: Wait until the Molyneux head lands at the foot of the mountain and imperceptibly works its way up. Rolling. Always looking out of the screen.
Alec: Intoning "MAGICAL. MAGICAL. MAGICAL. MAGICAL."
Alice: If Mountain really does cost only £1, we will need to add scores. This has brought me so much joy today.
Adam: Not a score for the game though - a score for mountains. Rating them out of then, holding up numbers like ice skating judges.
"I really like the angle of the hat but it's missing an orb, Alec." 3
Alice: That lone crate is too stark, too bold a statement.
Adam: My mountain has an entirely bare back side. Mountainbare.
Adam: We should analyse each person's mountain as if they had a hand in crafting it. "The way you've placed the crate is extravagant to the point of neediness, Graham. Were you an attention-seeking child?"
Alice: Aided by our original drawings, that may prove terrifying.
Alec: haha, I was just taking an extremely belated shower. Heard the chime from Mountain so immediately dashed out to see what I've got. Nothing, nothing other than now having to mop the floor.
Adam: HOLY SHIT A GIANT ANVIL
It nearly smashed my top hat. I managed to get a screengrab of it while it was still airborne. Not the best picture but captures my fear.
Alec: Adam's Wacky Mountain Of Zany Hijinks continues
Alice: This mountain is bullshit.
Adam: It's all a bit Looney Tunes, isn't it?
Alice: Which mod are you running?
Alice: Just cackled for about a minute at that response nbd
Alec: I'm trying to work out if it's a coincidence that Adam drew a hat and then received a hat in-game.
Alice: We'll know if a giant floppy face is slung over his mountainside.
Adam: It's possible that the damage to his face was caused by... a falling anvil.
Alec: Giant-size novelty pickaxe.
Adam: I'm getting the fear now.
Alice: I'm delighted to discover you can have a walking simulator without any locomotion at all. That's not true. The rotation is very important. But uncontrolled. Inspires mental walks.
Alec: One thing I've been wondering: is this actually a multiplayer game? Are we enjoying it primarily because we want to tell each other what just landed and swap screenshots?
Alec: I'm so tired I shall almost certainly die.
Graham: Can't tell whether you're quoting your mountain anymore.
Alec: I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.
Graham: So I guess Planet Earth crashed into me.
Alice: Oh that's what that is! I have that but from a different angle, buried deeper.
Graham: did you have a message beforehand, saying "I feel like something is going to happen"?
I can't tell if that was related.
Alice: Guys. You know those asteroids out in space? I think they're what smash into your planet.
I set up a really nice scene with two in frame, went away, and came back to find one was gone. Now I can't look away to see if anything's new, in case I lose sight of it and it vanishes too.
Graham: oh wow, I didn't realise you could zoom out so far. Some of the asteroids just seem to be rocks, but...
Adam: I think that's where we are. In the bed. The mountain is the dream of a dying man. A Looney Tunes sorta dream, sure, but STILL.
Graham: "The talking tribe, I find, want sensation from the mountain--not in Keats's sense. Beginners, not unnaturally, do the same--I did myself. They want the startling view, the horrid pinnacle--sips of beer and tea instead of milk. Yet often the mountain gives itself most completely when I have no destination, when I reach nowhere in particular, but have gone out merely to be with the mountain as one visits a friend with no intention but to be with him."
Alice: That's beautiful.
Graham: It's from this, which Ed Key recommended on Twitter.
Was writing something where I pair quotes from the book with some recent experiences in Minecraft. But it's all apt for today's fun, too.
Alice: My mountain's refusing to speak to me today. I wonder what I did to it.
Nathan: I'm messing with Mountain now too! Mine just got hit by a horse meteor.
Adam: All's quiet on Mount Anvil. A film reel landed some time just after 8 and there's an old-fashioned telephone buried in the foothills. But all's quiet now.
Nathan: I like that when it started snowing, the horse also got covered in snow. That was a nice touch.
Graham: My mountain died overnight :(
Alice: It DIED? Now I'm concerned about my mountain's silence.
Adam: Oh what?
Adam: Oh fuck right off the eye of blindness.
Alice: Oh glory be mine just spoke! Graham, did your mountain die from lack of attention?
Graham: Maybe? I left it running all night while I slept. Maybe I shouldn't have.
Adam: The eye of blindness is YOU. Not looking at it.
Adam: I think you need to check on it.
Alec: So it's Nintendomountain.
Alice: Your mountain's last words: "HELLO?" "ARE YOU THERE?" "DO YOU STILL CARE ABOUT ME?" "WELL, OKAY."
Alec: Basically it's got an anti-farming mechanic then.
Alice: Mountain-murderer. HE'S GOT GRAVEL ON HIS HANDS.
Graham: All I did was sleep :(
It'll happen to all of you.
Alice: Sleep on a bed of moss ripped from its corpse.
Adam: I'm quite literally devouring bucketloads of amphetamines right now. I ain't sleeping til this mountain grows legs, picks up a briefcase and walks off into the cosmos to find a job and set itself up in the big ol' world.
Alice: Any time a tab unexpectedly makes a noise I get excited and concerned it's my Mountain suddenly playing a tune. No, it's an AOL video.
Adam: Incidentally, if my mountain did sprout legs and arms and start walking around like a jaunty '20s cartoon character, I'd die of joy and transcend to a higher plane of being.
Nathan: You would become a mountain, for that is the highest plane of being of all.
Adam: I'm unreasonably sad that objects on my mountain are clipping through one another.
Alice: I have one lump on the peak with an anvil, cake, barrel, car, film, tap hat, sword, and some other stuff I can't make out. And a honking great empty space on one face.
Adam: Rather charmingly, my umbrella is now sheltering a film reel.
Wait. I'll show you.
Alice: I don't like to talk Emotions but this game genuinely is so uplifting for me. The sayings are perfect little thoughts, especially when they don't make sense. I turn them over in my head, looking at the scene and how they do or don't relate to it, and process a little of my own emotional thoughts in with that too.
Graham: I found it that way too!
Alice: Or my mountain grumbles about the rain and I'm zoomed out in deep space.
Graham: THEN IT DIED
Alice: Well Graham, time to get your affairs in order.
The contradictions are so zen. I just augh.
Graham: I decided not to generate a new mountain. I'm not ready.
Adam: Next time, I'm going to check on yours regularly and if it does die, I'll flush it down the loo and generate a new one before you notice.
"Didn't the biplane used to be higher up on Mounty's face?" "HA HA. No son. Mounty never had a biplane. That's a plain old crate. Just like always."
Alice: We tried giving you a mountain, Graham, but it seems you're not ready for the responsibility yet. We'll get you a BonziBuddy and see how that goes.
Adam: Graham's Furby, day two
Alice: Setting up specific scenes to encourage serendipity is good fun.
Question: are you waiting for thoughts to come naturally or mashing the key to force them? I only forced one, by accident. I was playing the xylophone, which ends one key short of that.
Adam: When I set up a shop, I press for one but always use the first one that comes up.
Alice: Avoids asteroids wandering out of frame while not ruining the fun. And I mean fun. FUN.
Alice: I'm worried about my mountain. After half an hour of silence this morning, it reflected that everything and everyone goes away eventually.
I think I'm nearing that supposed 50 hours endpoint.
Adam: Ohh, forgot to check on mine. It's absolutely littered with stuff now. Including a pie. First thing it said this morning, as soon as I loaded it up - 'I feel new somehow...and ancient.'
Err.. there are two beds out in space now.
Alice: Where are you all getting these chuffing space-beds from? I haven't found any!
Other bed is the white shape, middle-left of screen. Wasn't there yesterday (YES I CHECK FOR THESE THINGS).
[And then things got a bit too... spoiler-y? Maybe spoilery. Go get your own mountain. They're only $1.]